And then there were two.  
On Valentines Day, the Mavericks traded Jamal Mashburn to Miami for Kurt
Thomas, Sasha Danilovic, and Martin Muursepp.  With this trade, only
George McCloud and Jim Jackson remain from the 1995-96 season - and
Jackson is rumored to be soon gone.  Mashburn had shown no signs this
season of the player he once was and has shown no signs that he would
regain his form in Dallas.  The trading of Mashburn was not a surprise.  I
was actually surprised that we received as much as we did for Mash since
his trade value had to have been very low.  Kurt Thomas is the gem of the
trade.  He is 24 (same age as Mash), 6-9, 230 pounds, and a power forward.
The knock on him is that he is injury prone.  He will be out at least 6 
more weeks with a fractured right ankle.  He fractured the ankle January 
24 and had surgery on it February 4.  He is a Dallas native - attended 
Hillcrest High School - and attended TCU.  His senior year, he became the 
3rd player in NCAA history to lead the NCAA Division 1A in scoring and 
rebounding (28.9 points and 14.6 rebounds) - Hank Gathers and Xavier 
McDaniel were the others.  Sasha Danilovic is a pure shooter, 6-6, 200
pounds, and is about to turn 27.  He immediately becomes the Mavs' best
shooter (McCloud is a streak shooter).  He has spent most of his career 
in Europe.  He has an opt-out clause after this season and may consider 
returning to Europe.  Martin Muursepp is a project player.  He is 22, 6-9,
235, and is a forward but will probably see most of his minutes here at
center.  He is a rookie and had been playing for 5 season in Europe.  His
95-96 Estonia team won the European Championship.

The new guys' stats
 1996-97 MiamiHeat  (from Doug Steele's wonderful page)
        Scoring Statistics
 Player           Pos  G M/Gm  FGm  FGa  PCT  3m  3a  PCT  FTm  FTA  PCT  AVG
 danilovic,sasha   SG 43 31.4  175  396 .442  63 176 .358   73   94 .777 11.3
 thomas,kurt       PF 18 20.8   39  105 .371   0   1 .000   35   46 .761  6.3
 muursepp,martin   PF 10  2.7    5   14 .357   1   4 .250    6   14 .429  1.7

        Rebounding Statistics
 Player             AS AS/g  ST ST/G  TO TO/g  BK BK/g  TND  OR OR/g  TR TR/g
 danilovic,sasha    77  1.8  39  0.9  94  2.2   8  0.2  7.6  21 0.5  102  2.4
 thomas,kurt         9  0.5  12  0.7  25  1.4   9  0.5  6.4  31 1.7  107  5.9
 muursepp,martin     3  0.3   0  0.0   3  0.3   1  0.1  0.8   2 0.2    5  0.5

        Scoring Statistics
 Player            Min  Pts  Tnd/48  TC  EJ  FF  PF PTS/48
 danilovic,sasha  1351  486   11.60   4   0   0 123  17.27
 thomas,kurt       374  113   14.89   3   1   0  67  14.50
 muursepp,martin    27   17   15.11   0   0   0   3  30.22

        Rebounding Statistics
 Player            AS/48  ST/48  TO/48  BK/48  OR/48  TR/48
 danilovic,sasha     2.7    1.4    3.3    0.3    0.7    3.6
 thomas,kurt         1.2    1.5    3.2    1.2    4.0   13.7
 muursepp,martin     5.3    0.0    5.3    1.8    3.6    8.9

Jamal Mashburn: "I'm very happy.  I've been through a tough time here. 
Now I know I'm going to a place where I know I can play and we can win. 
I don't know what's going to happen here [in Dallas], but finally I don't 
have to worry about it."

Mashburn: "I think it was time.  I'm in a better situation.  I'm ecstatic.
For the past two, three years, this has been a tough situation for me.
Now I'm going somewhere where I can play and be very happy."

Mashburn: "I'm sure the Mavericks will just continue to just, I don't
know, I guess strive to win ballgames.  I don't know what's going to
happen with this organization.  But I don't have to worry about it

Mashburn: "I don't know what it is with this organization.  It seems like 
they're constantly rebuilding.  There's a new ownership now, and I don't 
know if it's egos or whatever.  It seems like it really started falling 
apart with the Kidd trade."

Kurt Thomas: "I didn't want to be traded.  If I had to be I guess I 
would've wanted to go back home. Hopefully this will turn out to be
something positive."
Kurt Thomas: "Being on a winning team, even though I haven't contributed
this year, you always want to be around a program that's winning.  I had a
great time while I was there, but this is my home, and I just want to

Jim Cleamons: "I think Jamal, as a basketball player, obviously has some
talent.  I just think a change may do him better."

Cleamons: "I think that's probably what [Nelson] wants to do, give us
options [with the acquiring of players that will be free agents shortly].
You get a free look at these guys.  More than anything else, I think we're
just trying to get guys who want to play."

Don Nelson: "This is a chance to get three darn good players and change 
the team.  I think change is good for teams and players; I think it's 
time that this one changes some.'

Nelson: "I think it's just time for a change for Jamal.  We wish him the 
best, I think he's a very fine player.  He just didn't seem to be playing 
up to his best here.  I certainly hope that changes and he become the 
player he was or wants to be."

Nelson: "I certainly hope that changes and he become the player he was or
wants to be.  He's going to a great situation, so I think it'll be real
positive for him.  It's time to make some changes here - It's truly that 

Nelson: "You'd be surprised by the lack of interest in a guys that aren't
playing well.  With Jamal, it was just time for a change."
Nelson: "It's time for a change, it's that simple.  Some of our players 
aren't playing well because they're obviously not happy.  They need to 
get their enthusiasm and their skills back to the level they were a 
couple of years ago.  If it's not here and a deal comes up that makes 
sense, we won't be afraid to move them for their sake and the club's."

Nelson: "Sometimes you don't know all the reasons, but it certainly looks
like it's time for a change here for some of the players.  They have to
get the enthusiasm back, or the skill level back, that they once had.  It
just doesn't seem like it's going to get done here.  Some players don't
seem happy here.  If that's the case, then we should look the other way.
And that's really what we've done."  [read: Jackson is next]

Nelson: "This isn't a trade that's going to turn us into a winner.  Kurt's
the guy we really wanted.  We know there's some risk, but it's a gamble we
were willing to take.  It doesn't really matter if he comes back this 
season.  We won't reap the dividends from this trade until next season."

Nelson: "Injuries do happen, and we've taken some risks with Thomas.  But
we factored that into the equation.  We think it's a good gamble."

Nelson: "[Danilovic has] proven he can score in this league.  He has the
option on free agency at the end of the year, and we'll work with him and
see how much we like him."

Nelson: "This is a start, and we're not finished yet.  I don't know
exactly what's going to happen.  But when it's right, we're not afraid to
pull the chain.  It's tim to make some changes here.  It's really that

George McCloud: "Mash will do well.  He'll make the playoffs and go on to 
his new life.  With everything that's going on here, we're not shocked. 
But we're all kind of looking around wondering `Am I next?' "

Derek Harper: "At least Nellie's giving guys a chance to win a
championship.  This was expected, as far as I'm concerned.  When Nellie
took over as GM, you could expect changes.  He obviously came here to make

Pat Riley: "This is not a move today that was made to try to shorten the 
distance between us and the Bulls, or us and the Knicks.  This is still a
move to continue to make this team better, to build this team.  They've 
been together for a year and a half, and adding Jamal Mashburn to the mix
we feel is a step in the right direction."
Riley: "Jamal Mashburn gives us a very, very versatile young player who 
can do many things - he's complete.  I'm very excited about the trade, 
and also a little disappointed because we had to give up some players 
that we wanted to build with.  But somewhere along the line, you have to 
make those decisions and that's one of the reasons why we made it."

Riley: "I said if there was an opportunity for a frontline player who 
was young and long-term I would consider a trade, and I did.  Anytime you
make a trade there are always risks involved.  But to get a starter who
averages 21 points a night, it is a risk we have to take in light of the 
injury to Dan Majerle.  We felt we needed to shore up the three spot and 
we gave up good young players to get one very good young player."
Riley: "Jamal gives us a very, very versatile young player.  He's 
complete.  He's not Grant Hill, but he's the kind of player Hill is.  He 
has great range as a 3-pointer shooter.  He can pass.  He's a hellacious 
post-up player.  We look at him as a front-line player - someone who will 
be here for the duration.  A lot of people are down on him, but he's too 
young to have forgotten all the things he did a few years ago."

Riley: "Everybody is reluctant [to trade for Mashburn] because they ask, 
`Why isn't he playing like himself?'"

Riley on Mashburn's poor shooting percentage: "It's shot selection.  In 
Dallas, he would step out on the wing and be isolated.  He would have to 
hit the home run.  He will play a little bit different for us - posting 
up and spotting up.  He was taking 20 shots a game.  That's not going to 
happen here.  I don't think he can score like he did there, but he can be 
effective."  [As if the Mavs want Mash to stick to the perimeter.  And I
wonder how Mash will respond to getting less shots.]
Riley: "We're going to ask him to become a defensive player and a 
rebounder.  He has the athletic ability to be a good defensive player."
[I snickered when I read this.  We'll see just how much of a miracle maker
Riley is.]
Riley: "There was a lot of second thoughts, because we had a good group of
guys.  Kurt is one of the best young power forwards in the game, Sasha is 
a player than can score, and Muursepp is a talented young player.  It's 
hard, Kurt especially because he had so much passion for this team.  But 
the small forward position had to be filled.  In spite of our chemistry, 
we had to make this deal."

In other Mavs news:
The Mavs released Fred Roberts and signed Erick Strickland.

Patricia Bender
Not affiliated with or representing anyone besides myself.